Wondering where Bernie Sanders stands on cannabis? For part 3 of our 2020 Front Runner series, we’ll be looking at Bernie Sanders’ policies and plans for cannabis.
Who Is Bernie Sanders?
The senator from Vermont is the longest serving independent in US history. He’s largely known as being Hillary Clinton’s main opponent for the Democratic National Convention nomination for the 2016 election. Currently in the majority of the polls Sanders is trailing both Biden and Warren, however his support levels are still significant.
Sanders describes himself as a democratic socialist, and is seen as having the most progressive views out of anyone vying for the nomination. His progressive views extend to issues around cannabis, as he released a comprehensive plan on October 24 2019, at exactly 4:20pm.
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Bernie Sanders Cannabis Policy
Unlike Biden and Warren, Sanders’ website very clearly outlines his intentions around cannabis. The key points to his Legalizing Marijuana plan are as follows:
- Legalize marijuana in the first 100 days with executive action
- Vacate and expunge all past marijuana-related convictions
- Ensure that revenue from legal marijuana is reinvested in communities hit hardest by the War on Drugs
- Ensure legalized marijuana does not turn into big tobacco
The first point of legalizing within the first 100 days of office is incredibly ambitious, although possible. No other democratic candidate has put a timeline on legalization, despite the large majority including it as a campaign promise.
Where Bernie Sanders cannabis plan sets itself apart from the rest is in the details. To combat the people and communities impacted the most by the War on Drugs, Sanders plans to setup two grant programs . The first grant program, worth $20 billion, would allow entrepreneurs of color to gain access to funds to start their businesses. The second worth $10 billion would aim to help fund businesses in areas that have been the most affected by the War on Drugs. This would all, in theory, be paid for by tax revenue generated from the cannabis industry.
Is Weed Legal In Virginia?
Sanders also has a plan to combat this new industry turning into big tobacco. He would essentially control it by giving preferential licenses to smaller businesses. Preferential licensing would help in stopping large cannabis companies from gaining a monopoly across the country.
What Does This Mean?
Other democratic candidates have recently jumped on board the cannabis bandwagon. With the large majority of democratic voters being in support for legal cannabis, it’s hard to ignore the convenience that some candidates may simply be pushing for legalization to gain votes. Only recently did Senator Warren publicly voice her support for legalization.
Sanders, on the other hand, has been behind this cause for decades now. In 1995 he co-sponsored a bill to federally legalize medical marijuana . This was before any US state even had a medical marijuana program. A year later in 1996, California made history in becoming the first state to legalize marijuana for medical purposes.
With the most ambitious and progressive cannabis policy for 2020, and the historical support to match, it’s hard to fault Bernie Sanders for his plans around cannabis.